News and Events

  • June 2016:       Congratulations to Kellogg Booth, who last week was awarded the 2016 Canadian Digital Media Pioneer Award. As the award citation notes, "It is hard to imagine a single individual working in the field over the past 40 years who has done as much to foster Canadian excellence in new media research than Kellogg Booth. He has consistently been a selfless advocate, leader, mentor, and practitioner in the field. As such, he is a true Canadian Digital Media Pioneer." His vision in launching and leading the GRAND Network of Centres of Excellence have had impact far beyond UBC, across all of Canada. Previous winners of the award include a prestigious pantheon of Canadian innovators in digital media, including the inventors of computer-based keyframing, the pioneer of multi-touch systems, the President of EA Worldwide Studios who further led the development of the Xbox Kinect, and the founders of SMART Technologies. More information at the Graphics Interface website .
  • June 2016:       Michiel van de Panne received the 2016 Achievement Award from the Canadian Human-Computer Communication Society at its annual Graphics Interface conference (June 1-3) in Victoria, BC. The award recognizes Canadian researchers who have made substantial contributions to the fields of computer graphics, visualization, or human-computer interaction. He was given the award for research that spans computer graphics, computer animation, and robotics, the modeling of human and animal motion and the motor skills that underly that movement. The award was established in 1990 and awarded from time to time since then, most recently on an annual basis. Michiel is the third UBC Computer Science faculty member to receive this award. The first was Professor Alain Fournier in 1994. More information at the Graphics Interface website .
  • February 2016:       Joanna McGrenere is the recipient of the 2015 UBC Killam Faculty Research Fellowship. Offered on a competitive basis, these awards are intended to support faculty members engaged in research projects of broad significance. Joanna is spending her sabbatical year in Paris collaborating with researchers at INRIA studying co-adaptive human-computer-interaction: how users appropriate software applications for their own use, adapt the software to their needs, and adapt themselves to the software’s constraints.
  • January 2016:       UBC Computer Science and the Imager lab will be well represented at CHI 2016. The following papers have been accepted:
  • Janzen, I., Rajendran, V. K., & Booth, K. S. (2016, May 7-12). The impact of target depth on pointing performance. ACM Conf. on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI '16), San Jose, CA.
  • Ponsard, A., & McGrenere, J. (2016, May 7-12). Anchored Customization: Anchoring Settings to the Application Interface to Afford Customization. ACM Conf. on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI '16), San Jose, CA.
  • Schneider, O.S., Seifi, H., Kashani, S., Chun, M., & MacLean, K. E. (2016, May 7-12). HapTurk: Crowdsourcing Affective Ratings of Vibrotactile Icons. ACM Conf. on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI '16), San Jose, CA. Abstract: Vibrotactile (VT) display is becoming a standard component of informative user experience, where notifications and feedback must convey information eyes-free. However, effective design is hindered by incomplete understanding of relevant perceptual qualities. To access evaluation streamlining now common in visual design, we introduce proxy modalities as a way to crowdsource VT sensations by reliably communicating high-level features through a crowd-accessible channel. We investigate two proxy modalities to represent a high-fidelity tactor: a new VT visualization, and low-fidelity vibratory translations playable on commodity smartphones. We translated 10 high-fidelity vibrations into both modalities, and in two user studies found that both proxy modalities can communicate affective features, and are consistent when deployed remotely over Mechanical Turk. We analyze fit of features to modalities and suggest future improvements. Preprint: https://www.dropbox.com/s/1ggf104rneyni50/Hapturk_CHI16-cameraready-2015-01-13c.pdf?dl=0 Video: On its way, finished within 1 week.
  • The following paper was accepted for the Macaron Haptics Symposium:
  • Schneider, O.S. & MacLean, K.E. (2016, April 8-11). Studying Design Process and Example Use with Macaron, a Web-based Vibrotactile Effect Editor. IEEE Haptics Symposium (HAPTICS’16). Philadelphia, PA, USA. Abstract: Examples are a critical part of any design process. However, current libraries for vibrotactile (VT) effects provide neither insight into examples’ construction nor capability for their deconstruction and re-composition. To investigate example use in VT design, we introduce Macaron, a web-based VT effect editor built as both a practical tool that leverages examples, and a means of studying the VT design process. We used Macaron to qualitatively characterize participants’ design processes, and observed two basic uses of examples: as a starting point or template for a design task, and as a method of learning to use VT parameters effectively. We discuss how features supporting internal visibility and composition influenced these example uses, and articulate several implications for VT editing tools and libraries of VT examples. We conclude with future work, including plans to deploy Macaron online to examine examples and other aspects of VT design in situ. Preprint: coming (next 1-2 weeks, the camera-ready version hasn’t been uploaded yet). Image: coming (next 1-2 weeks). Video: coming (next 1-2 weeks).
  • November 2015:       Tamara Munzner is the recipient of the 2015 Visualization Technical Achievement Award. The award is given in recognition of her foundational research that has 'produced a scientific basis for principles and design choices for visualization', which culminated in her 2014 book Visualization Analysis and Design from CRC Press. The award was presented at the IEEE VIS Conference in Chicago on Oct 27, 2015. Tamara is the first female recipient of the award since the IEEE Visualization and Graphics Technical Committee started the awards program in 2004. For the full details, see https://www.cs.ubc.ca/news/2015/11/ubc-computer-science-professor-tamara-munzner-receives-2015-visualization-technical-ach
  • October 2015:       Oliver Schneider and Karon MacLean partner with Disney Research to develop haptic animation tools. New technology developed at Disney Research can create touch-based (“haptic”) sensations that move across your skin, creating literal shivers down your spine. These types of effects improve user experience with games, rides, and other media, both for entertainment and for assistive or educational applications. Unfortunately, it's difficult to for artists to create haptic effects without dedicated tools. Two UBC computer science researchers, PhD student Oliver Schneider and Professor Karon MacLean of the SPIN lab teamed up with Disney researcher Ali Israr to develop an easy-to-use tool that lets expert artists create new effects. Artist can simply click and drag “animation objects”, phantom vibrations that can be arranged and synchronized using a timeline, just like traditional animation. To do this, they had to develop a new interface, pipeline, and set of rendering algorithms to translate easy-to-use animation objects into vibration profiles on multi-actuator devices, like a gaming chair. Previously, artists would have to work with these actuators directly, making it difficult to create effects like motion. “Working with Disney has been an incredible experience,” says Oliver, of his internship and continuing collaboration. “Being a part of their creative culture and seeing artists at work has helped me better understand storytelling and artists’ processes, which I can directly apply to my doctoral research on haptic experience design.” Their animation tool, Mango, and findings from the study will be presented at the upcoming UIST conference in Charlotte, North Carolina. Mango, and its underlying rendering pipeline, can also be applied to interactive performances, or other devices like midair haptic feedback to reduce distraction when driving cars.
  • Sept 2015:       Welcome new students, post-docs and visitors!
  • Paul Bucci (MSc student, supervisor Karon MacLean)
  • Kimberly Dextras-Romagnino (MSc student, supervisor Karon MacLean)
  • Louie Dinh (MSc student, supervisor Tamara Munzner)
  • Wenqiang Dong (MSc student, supervisor Tamara Munzner)
  • Minchen Li (MSc student, supervisor Alla Sheffer)
  • Zipeng Liu (MSc student, supervisor Tamara Munzner)
  • Xue Bin (Jason) Peng (MSc student, supervisor Michiel van de Panne)
  • Dilan Ustek (MSc student, supervisor Karon MacLean)
  • Meghana Venkataswamy (MSc student, supervisor Karon MacLean)
  • Jussi Rantala (Post-doctoral Fellow, supervisor Karon MacLean)
  • Ricardo Caceffo (Post-doctoral Fellow, supervisor Kellogg Booth)
  • Merel Jung (Visiting International Research Student, supervisor Karon MacLean)
  • August 2015:       Benjamin Humberston and Professor Dinesh Pai were awarded best paper at the Symposium on Computer Animation (SCA) for their paper "Hands On: Interactive Animation of Precision Manipulation and Contact".
  • August 2015:       Kai Ding, Post-doc Libin Liu, Professor Michiel van de Panne and KangKang Yin (faculty member at the National University of Singapore and UBC alumna) were awarded best paper at the Symposium on Computer Animation (SCA) for their paper "Learning Reduced-Order Feedback Policies for Motion Skills".
  • July 2015:       Professor Alla Sheffer and her co-authors from University of Berkeley, received the 2015 North American Manufacturing Research Conference (NAMRC) Outstanding Paper Award. The paper, Energy-Efficient Vector Field Based Toolpaths for CNC Pocket Machining , employs ideas from computer graphics, specifically text layout, for CNC path computation.
  • June 2015:       A team from the UBC SPIN (Sensory Perception and Interaction Research ) Lab consisting of Brenna Li, Gordon Minaker, Paul Bucci, and Oliver Schneider (supervised by Professor Karon MacLean) won first place at the World Haptics 2015 Student Innovation Challenge. This challenge was the first of its kind at a haptics conference, offering student teams an opportunity to solve a problem by programming the TPad Phone, a variable-friction display that allows users to feel texture on a touch screen. The UBC team’s project, RoughSketch, explored different interaction techniques through a drawing app, like an ink pen writing on paper, the slipperiness of finger painting, and the friction of a rubber eraser. RoughSketch was voted the best of 25 applicants and 9 finalists, netting the team a cash prize and a Microsoft Surface each.

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